DUNEDIN, FLA. — Newly signed slugger Pedro Alvarez doesn't look at all like he showed up three weeks into Orioles spring training.
He started at first base Tuesday and drove in the first run in the Orioles' 6-6 tie with the Toronto Blue Jays at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
Lest anyone forget, Alvarez hit a long double with his first contact of the exhibition season and drove home former college teammate Ryan Flaherty in Sunday's game against the Minnesota Twins in Fort Myers. He did exactly the same thing Tuesday, following up a first-inning walk by Flaherty and a single by Jonathan Schoop with a line drive off the left-field fence that brought Flaherty home for the first run of the game.
Alvarez followed that up with a fly ball in the third inning where Blue Jays right fielder Darrell Ceciliani made a terrific diving catch.
Right-hander Chris Tillman made his first Grapefruit League start and struggled through 1 2/3 innings, giving up two runs on five hits. He struck out one and walked three in a performance that required 51 pitches, 29 of them strikes.
Designated hitter Jose Bautista and first baseman Chris Colabello each drove in a run with a single for the Blue Jays.
The Orioles rallied from a two-run deficit with four runs in the eighth inning, two of them on a home run by minor league prospect Alfredo Marte and the others on an RBI double by journeyman Xavier Avery and an RBI single by infielder Garabez Rosa.
The Blue Jays answered with a run in the eighth and one in the ninth to forge a tie.
Rule 5 guy rocks
Outfielder Joey Rickard is making a big case for staying on the major league roster, which he has to do if the Orioles want to keep him around. Since he's a Rule 5 guy, he must make the team or be put on waivers, but that won't be an issue if he continues to play the way he has so far this spring.
He had two more hits Tuesday to raise his Grapefruit League batting average to .294. He also stole a base and continues to show that he can hold his own in the field … and everybody knows how much the Orioles love to hang on to those Rule 5 guys.
Marte's late-inning highlights
Marte took full advantage of his late entrance into Tuesday's game. He took over for Christian Walker in left field and moved into the cleanup spot after Alvarez got his three plate appearances, then made an impression both ways.
In the seventh inning, he made a great diving catch to rob Jays outfielder Domonic Brown of a hit and then came up in the eighth and launched a long, game-tying two-run home run over the left-field fence.
Manager Buck Showalter has had some nice things to say about Marte over the past couple of weeks, and why not? He has played in 12 games and has seven hits in 19 exhibition at-bats for a .368 batting average.